A Genealogical Study


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Photo 03-06-01



The Kowalski family blacksmiths' forge


Nadstawna Street, Radzilow, mid-1920s


This photo of the forge was probably taken in the mid-1920s, when it was run by Mejer Kowalski, one of a number of family members who shared the name. He can be seen in the doorway of the forge, to the right of the bearded man who is holding the wheel. Mejer would have inherited the forge from his father, Izrael Moszk Kowalski, who died in 1900. However, it is likely that one of Izrael Moszk's several blacksmith brothers would have run the business immediately following his death, as Mejer was only a child when his father passed away.


The reverse of the photo bears a lengthy Yiddish inscription written by Mejer to his sister, Szejna Rajchel, who emigrated to New York in 1921. He laments the fact that the forge was not situated on his own property, and announces his decision to leave Radzilow. The photo was taken as a souvenir of the family's life in Radzilow. Mejer emigrated to Israel with his wife and son, c.1924.


Yiddish inscription reads:


"Ich wott gewen der glicklichste oif der welt wenn die kusni wot gestannen oif inser eigene ert. Ich miss alle ferlosen in entloifen Ich bin seit ... Ich sich .... Zim andeinken .... Ti ich far mein shvester im shenken As wen di west a kik ton, sollste mir gedenken.

Meir Kovalsky"


"I would have been the happiest man in the world if the forge had stood on our own land.  I must leave everyone behind and run away because I am a Jew (?).  Therefore, I have made this greeting as a memento, which I do for my sister as a gift to her, that when you take a look at it, you should remember me.

Meir Kowalski"


Photo donated by Robin Kavall. This translation is a combination of translations by Esriel Sternbuch and Michele Zoltan, edited by Saul Marks.



Photo 03-06-02


Photo 03-06-03




The remains of the Kowalski forge, March 2003


These photos were taken by Keith Juzba, who is unrelated to the Kowalski family, but whose ancestors also came from Radzilow. Although, at first glance, this tumbledown building does not look like the building in the 1920s photo, above, it has been confirmed as the former Kowalski forge by a local resident.


There are a number of significant changes which have been made to this small building between the 1920s and today. Firstly, it can be seen from the left-hand photo that the building has been attached to the back of a two-storey house, the front of which faces onto the street in the background, Lomzynska Street. As the house does not exist in the earlier photo, it must have been built in the interim, although its style suggests a date of construction earlier in this period, rather than later. Lomzynska Street is at an angle of rather more than 90 to Nadstawna Street, on which the forge stands. The house in the background of the earlier photo, if it still stands today, would be on the far side of Lomzynska Street, near the site of the shul.


In comparing the side wall of the forge in the 1920s photo with that in the left-hand photo from 2003, it is clear they are very different. The later photo shows the wall with a small window in it, and it has been covered with some form of plasterwork. It also appears that roof of the building in the 2003 photo rises at a much shallower angle than that in the earlier photo. The combination of these two facts suggests that the forge had had its side wall knocked down and a longer one rebuilt, with the window in it. The exposure of the brickwork underneath the plaster at the corner of the building shows the thickness of the new wall.


The type of stone seen on the front of the building in the 2003 photo is seen to be very similar to that in the 1920s photo, so it is reasonable to assume that the front of the building is the same as that in the earlier photo. There is certainly no doubt that this type of material would have been able to withstand the intense heat generated by the blacksmiths' work.


It appears that the doorway in which Mejer Kowalski is seen in the 1920s photo is that which is covered by the blue doors in the 2003 photo. However, the arched doorway featured in the right-hand of Keith Juzba's photos could also be the original doorway to the building. The left-hand photo strongly suggests that this building is, in fact, two conjoined buildings, each with a separate entrance. Despite this, it is still impossible to determine which is the doorway shown in the 1920s photo.


Both the older and newer photos show the slight slope of the ground towards and beyond the front of the forge building, towards the left foreground. This slope continues, out of shot, down to the Biebrza river.


Photos taken by Keith Juzba and published at http://www.radzilow.com/juzba.htm.



Photo 03-06-04


Photo 03-06-05


The remains of the Kowalski forge, 16 October 2004


These photos were taken by my cousin and research partner, Jeff Kaiser, on his visit to Radzilow. In the 19 months since Keith Juzba's visit, the roof of the forge building had collapsed or been demolished and the stop sign added (though it is unknown why the sign should be in English!).


These photos also show the length of the side wall of the forge, and it seems the roof depicted in the 2003 photo was single-sided, not sloped on both sides, as in the 1920s photo. This suggests the rear wall of the forge had been rebuilt or extended upwards to accommodate the new shape roof. The angle between the front wall of the forge building and the side wall of the house can clearly be seen in the left-hand photo.


By the time these latest photos were taken, it was clear that the forge building is no longer in use even by the inhabitants of the house to which it is attached. The area enclosed within the remaining walls may be used as a storage area, but the absence of the roof highlights the instability of the building's remains. An example of this is the hole in the building's front wall, next to the stop sign!


Photos donated by Jeff Kaiser




Photo 03-06-06



Leja Kowalska (ne Linenberg)


Radzilow, c.1920s


Leja was born in Radzilow c.1853 and married Izrael

Moszk Kowalski there in 1876. He died in 1900 and she later re-married his uncle, Mejer Zvi Kowalski, prompting

the emigration of her daughter, Brajna, to London in

1905. Leja died in Radzilow, 1931


Yiddish inscription reads:


Right-hand side:


"...und sheine euch mein Bild fur mein Tochter und ihre Zoon fun mir dein getreire Mutter Leah Kowalski"

"...my picture for my daughter and your husband, from me, your beloved mother, Leah Kowalski."


Left-hand side:


"Es fut sich es plutshet sich dem Arzt in dem Shtetl es rirt sich es wegt sich in dem gefeel kein (or gein) grubres (?) kein bessus kein euch dir nit sheinken alles von weiten sheint euch tzur mein Bilt az die Zolst mir hoben tzum gedenken. Das iz von mir dein getreire Mutter Leah fun..."

"...in the shtetl its moving, its waking up in the feeling of going(?)... no better... not to send anything from afar... shines... to my picture... you should have it to remember me. That is from me, your beloved mother Leah for the..."


English post-script reads:

"Boobah (Granmar) (Mums Mum)"


Photo from estate of Lynda Harvey. Partial translation by Naftali Lieberman.




Photo 03-06-07



Leja Kowalska (ne Linenberg)


Radzilow, 13 October 1922


Inscription on reverse reads: "1922 13/x Radzylaw"

English post-script reads: "Grandmother Mrs Kovalsky"


Photo from estate of Lynda Harvey




Photo 03-06-08



(left to right)


Riwka Reizil Niedzwiecka (later Davidovich)

Izrael Mosze Kowalski (later Mosze Peled)

Efroim Hersz Niedzwiecki (later Sharon)


Radzilow, 13 October 1922


Riwka Reizil emigrated to Israel in 1939. Izrael Mosze's parents emigrated to Jerusalem with him c.1924. He became a well-respected academic, and died in 2001. Efroim spent time in a concentration camp but survived

and emigrated to Israel.


Yiddish inscription reads:


"Tzum evigin andenkenk fur einzer tanta fun deina plimenitze un plimenikes Reizil un Froim un kuzin Yisrael Moshe Kovalski"

"As a memento for our aunt from your niece & nephews Reizil and Froim, and cousin Israel Moshe Kowalski."


The photo is dated "13/x 1922" and

addressed to "S Tiskofski, Londin"

Photo from estate of Lynda Harvey. This translation is a combination of translations by Tamara Selden, John Strauss and Saul Marks.




Photo 03-06-09


Photo 03-06-10

Photo 03-06-11




Radzilow, c. early 1920s

Mejer Kowalski


Jerusalem, c.1940




Jerusalem, c.1947

Mejer was born in Radzilow c.1892 and ran his late father's blacksmith's forge in the late 1910s and early 1920s.

In 1919, he married his cousin, Estera Dwojra Kaminska. He emigrated with Estera and his son, Izrael Mosze, to Jerusalem c.1924. He died in Jerusalem c.1995, aged 103.


Photos from estate of Lynda Harvey




Photo 03-06-12



Estera Dwojra Kowalska (ne Kaminska)


Jerusalem, c.1940


Estera Dwojra was born in Radzilow and was Shim Kamensky's younger sister. In 1919, she married her cousin,

Mejer Kowalski, and the couple emigrated to Jerusalem c.1924, with their baby son, Izrael Mosze.

She died there c.1962.


Photo from estate of Lynda Harvey




Photo 03-06-13



Moshe Peled and his wife, Zipporah


Jerusalem, 14 September 1947


Moshe was born Izrael Mosze Kowalski in Radzilow in 1921, and emigrated with his parents to Jerusalem c.1924.

He became a well-respected academic and died in Jerusalem in 2000.


Hebrew inscription reads:


"L'dodti ub'nei hamishpacha

ma'at: Moshe veZipporah

Yerushalayim - 14.9.47."

"To my aunt and family

From Moshe and Zipporah

Jerusalem - 14.9.47."


English caption in pencil is mine


Photo from estate of Lynda Harvey. Translation by Avraham Dorogoy and Saul Marks.




Photo 03-06-14



Moshe Peled (n Izrael Mosze Kowalski)


Jerusalem, c.1950s


Moshe was born Izrael Mosze Kowalski in Radzilow in 1921, and emigrated with his parents to Jerusalem c.1924.

He became a well-respected academic and died in Jerusalem in 2000.


Photo from estate of Lynda Harvey



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